With striking organic design and curves in all the right places, Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge is far from your classic tented safari camp. Located in the 5,400 hectare private Sabi Sabi Game Reserve in South Africa – on the border of the famed Kruger National Park – Earth Lodge is the most luxurious of Sabi Sabi’s four camps.
Review: Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge Safari Camp, South Africa
Clad in mud repurposed from excavating the lodge’s foundations, Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge’s low-slung suites blend seamlessly into the surrounding bushveld. Each one is tucked beneath a cloak of grass and feels very private, without a neighbour in sight. Once inside, the suites are cavernous. An open-plan lounge and romantic bed laced in mosquito nets take up most of the footprint, while the en-suite bathroom has a full glass front leading out onto the terrace. And the terrace itself is the real deal – there’s a large shaded alfresco lounge equipped with ceiling fans, alongside a pool flanked with sun loungers.
Stone and wood feature heavily in the suites’ décor, with handcrafted headboards and chandeliers adding a good dose of local flair, and a suitably earthy palette of warm greys and beige with some leather accents. Each suite also has an impressively large drinks cabinet.
If you’re all safari-ed out, you could all too easily while away a lazy morning or a late afternoon in your private retreat. There are 13 suites in total, including the recently refurbished two-bedroom Amber Villa, which spans 2,500 square-feet and is perfect for small groups or families seeking a bit more privacy, as it comes with its very own butler and private safari vehicle.
Naturally, the aim of the game at Earth Lodge is the pursuit of exciting wildlife encounters. Game drives are held every morning and afternoon with a maximum of six guests per vehicle. With its privileged location, Sabi Sabi Game Reserve is home to a vast array of wildlife, including 47 large mammal species and more than 500 bird species. It’s a proclaimed hotspot for the Big Five – leopard, lion, rhino, elephant and buffalo – and all this amid a diverse and beautiful undulating landscape pocked with fever trees and umbrella thorns. Aside from regular game drives, there’s the opportunity to partake in walking safaris for anyone keen to get up close and personal with some of the smaller animals of the bush, while driving back to the lodge post sundowners allows guests to spot nocturnal creatures on the hunt.
While Sabi Sabi’s three other lodges in the area – Bush Lodge, Selati Camp and Little Bush Camp – all offer access to excellent guiding within this private reserve, returning to Earth Lodge at the end of a hot day rattling through the wilderness feels utterly indulgent. The entrance deserves a mention in itself; you wind your way down to the heart of the communal zone, a vast circular space centred around a trickling stream. Artworks by renowned sculptor, Geoffrey Armstrong, made with wood salvaged from trees torn down by elephants, are dotted across the property.
But that’s not all: Earth Lodge is a fully-equipped gym with views over the wilderness, and the Amani spa, where you can treat yourself to a holistic massage.
Those in the know will be familiar with the fact that, on safari, you’re fed practically all day long – so light and fresh dishes help lighten the load. Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge offers some pleasingly healthy options. Local organic produce is a focus, which pulls through in the flavours of the dishes. Breakfast is served buffet-style, but there’s also the option to order more elaborate dishes from the menu. The lunch menu is lengthy with plenty of salads and wraps alongside more substantial mains. Dinner is typically served a la carte, paired with wines from some of South Africa’s small independent wineries stocked in an underground cellar holding over 6,000 bottles of rare vintages. The open-air restaurant leads out to a landscaped garden overlooking a nearby waterhole, and the lodge also hosts African-themed evenings in the romantic boma for a change of scene, with all sorts of meats grilled on the braai. There’s also a bar for sipping cocktails before and after dinner.
THE FINAL WORD
Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge is undeniably a unique proposition in the bush – from its dramatic construction and eye-catching design details, to an incredible wine cellar. This refreshing take on a traditional safari will sate the appetites of architecture aficionados and wildlife enthusiasts alike.
A Typical Day At Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge
By Sarah Rodrigues
Rates from £1,245 per person per night. This includes open vehicle safaris by day and at night, environmental awareness walking safaris, breakfast, lunch, ‘boma’ dinner, all drinks excluding French Champagne and Private Collection Wines, WiFi and limited laundry service. sabisabi.com